Containing lightning in a bottle
Buffalo to take on Kent State Saturday
Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 20:10
The football team has the opportunity to leave Kent, Ohio, this Saturday bowl eligible for the second time since joining the Mid-American Conference in 1999. To do so, the Bulls will need to defeat Kent State, a team that is much better than its two-win record suggests.
The Bulls (5-2, 3-0 MAC) will travel to Kent State (2-6, 1-3 MAC) in pursuit of their first six-game win streak since 1959. Many consider this to be Buffalo’s biggest test thus far in conference play.
The Flashes have dropped their last three games, but their previous two conference losses were to Northern Illinois and Ball State, which are a combined 14-1 and 7-0 in the MAC.
“The last thing I’m talking about is records to our team,” said head coach Jeff Quinn.
Senior running back/wide receiver Dri Archer, a player Quinn called “the fastest player in the MAC,” leads Kent State. Archer was slowed by injuries earlier in the season but exploded last week with 10 rushes for 114 yards and two receptions for 85 yards. He has scored at least one touchdown in the last four games.
“If there’s a 4.3 [-second] 40[-yard dash] guy in this league, it’s him,” Quinn said. “There’s nobody like him [in the MAC]. He can take it to the house on any play.”
The most difficult part of defending Archer is his ability to line up at multiple positions. One play he will be in the backfield, and the next he will line up at wide receiver. He leads all rushers with at least 10 carries in yards per rush (7.6), averages 15.4 yards per catch and has two touchdowns of over 70 yards this season.
Archer had 14 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown in Kent State’s 23-7 victory over Buffalo last season.
“It’s going to take a lot for our corners, safeties and linebackers to contain him and nobody’s really been able to do that,” Quinn said.
It is unclear who will start at quarterback for the Golden Flashes. Starting freshman quarterback Colin Reardon suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago and was unable to start last week against South Alabama (3-3). Senior dual-threat quarterback David Fisher filled in last week against South Alabama in a loss and threw for 181 yards and two touchdowns; he also ran for 106 yards.
Reardon had nearly 1,200 yards passing and 10 touchdowns in the seven games before his injury.
Quinn said the defense is preparing for both quarterbacks because Reardon is listed as questionable.
The Bulls have their own injury problems. Buffalo lost senior offensive lineman Jasen Carlson when he suffered a broken leg last Saturday against UMass. Whether he will miss the remainder of the seasonis questionable, according The Buffalo News.
Along with Archer, the Buffalo ‘D’ must contain junior running back Trayion Durham, who leads the team with 501 rushing yards and 777 total yards. The team’s leading receiver through eight games is junior Chris Humphrey with 37 receptions for 439 yards and three touchdowns.
Kent State ran for 239 yards in last year’s contest against the Bulls. But this season, Quinn has seen tremendous strides in his defense’s play.
“We weren’t quite ready to measure up against that kind of offense last year at that particular time,” Quinn said. “But as time moved along, we saw the growth, development and confidence coming.”
The defensive improvements have been most evident through the turnover margin. Buffalo ranks second in the nation in turnover differential (+13), trailing only Houston (+14).
Senior safety/linebacker Adam Redden is coming off his second MAC Defensive Player of the Week honor after recording 12 tackles and a fumble recovery last weekend. He currently leads the team with 49 tackles and has 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.
“We said it all year long: People aren’t going to run to 46 [Khalil Mack], so get ready over there, 29 [Redden], because they are going to come your way,” Quinn said.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Dix Stadium and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
Buffalo (+2) @ Kent State
@aaroncmansfield (5-2): Buffalo – I think it’ll be close; the Bulls are the better team, though.
@owenobri (6-1): Buffalo – If Alex Neutz is able to play, the offense will continue putting up points, and this ‘D’ is too good to allow one player to dictate the outcome.
@bentarhan (4-3): Buffalo – The Bulls will have to lose eventually, but it won’t be against Kent State.
@jgags15 (5-2): Buffalo – Another opponent that can’t stop the Buffalo run should equate to another victory.